As part of the WVU B&E study abroad program in China, students engaged in two case competitions with local universities in China: Peking University and Shanghai Maritime University this year. Students were challenged and learned tremendously in this experience and enjoyed the process of working with Chinese students on case competitions.
In early May 2017, six undergraduate students, 12 graduate students (MBA, eMBA, Pharmacy & MBA), and three faculty members from College of Business and Economics travelled to China for a 12-day study abroad trip. The program consisted of company tours, campus visits, and various cultural immersion activities. As the highlight of the trip, students of our own joined Chinese students from two different universities for different case competitions.
At Peking University, the most esteemed university in China, students worked on the case of expanding HaiDiLao Restaurant, a famous Chinese brand, into the American market. At Shanghai Maritime University, another high-ranking university in China, students then worked on expanding Texas Roadhouse Restaurant into Chinese Market.
Before the China trip, students were put into groups, with a good mixture of UG students, Graduate students, and their Chinese counterparts. The cases for both competitions were also distributed shortly before the trip to both American students and Chinese students. Teams communicated via WeChat, a powerful Chinese-brand communication phone App, to get to know each other and start prepping for the case competitions. When our students arrived on campus at the local universities, team members met face to face for the first time, discussed the case further, and finalized the presentation within an hour. Then it was the show time.
Students presented their findings on the feasibility of expanding the target company to the target market in front of a panel of judges made of both American and Chinese faculty members. Specific topics that students discussed were product description, market interest, competition, local regulations, as well as cultural adaptation, location, and promotion strategies. At the end, top three teams were selected and awarded.
Students spoke highly about the case competitions and reflected after such rich academic and cultural experience. Here are a few excerpts from UG students’ daily journals:
“It was so fun speaking with students that were my age from across the globe and be able to give an effective presentation with them.”
“It was a lot of fun working and communicating with the Chinese students…the learning that was done from a textbook standpoint in terms of figure out if HiDiLao would work in the USA was secondary…it was the interaction with the Chinese students that I really learned from…”
“We were all very excited to meet these foreign students and really get to know people from another culture. My favorite part of the whole experience was teaching the Chinese girls how to throw an American football. They had never seen football before but were naturals at throwing. I believe the case competition experience was one of the most valuable experiences I have had on the trip thus far and the engagement was eye opening.”
“Honestly when I signed up for the trip, I viewed these case competitions as something that had to be done not something that I would enjoy. I was very wrong. It was a lot of fun to meet local students our age and work on a small project with them.”
“The case competition was one of the coolest most enriching experiences I’ve had in the academic world…I keep thinking how lucky I am to have been part of this trip. From an academic side as well as an experience side, I have seen life changing things on this trip and will remember them forever.”